After a week in my mother’s home town of Essen, it was time for us to travel down to the little ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to chase the snow – you must be thinking oh another really long German name, but there is a bit of a story to this one. Garmisch and Partenkirchen were originally two separate towns but in 1935 Hitler decided to merge them for the fourth Winter Olympics -much to the dismay of its residents. Famed for its slopes, alpine hiking and being home to the Zugspitze – Germany’s highest mountain, we finally got to see snow – on the mountains! Sadly as mentioned in my previous post as it was the hottest winter Germany had experienced since 1771 meant that the town that is usually decked in centimeters of snow was mostly bare during our stay, however it snowed on the mountains and we were finally able to make snow angles!
We stayed in Partenkirchen – the more quaint and traditional part of the two towns – a close walk from the historic Ludwigstrasse, where houses and shops fronts are adorned in beautiful Lüftelmalerei or traditional Bavarian air paintings which gives Garmisch-Partenkirchen its colourful charm. Scroll down for my tips on what to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and some fun day trips!
- The Werdenfels Museum – It provides a beautiful visual history of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, each of the four levels focuses on a specific topic. I particularly loved seeing all the traditional clothing and accessories – they just don’t make things with as much care and intricacy as they used to.
- Eat – There are so many great places to eat in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but I would suggest to stick to the traditional food to truly immerse yourself – as a vegetarian/pescatarian I used to find it very hard to find something other than salad to eat in Germany but most places now cater for us non meat eaters! Make sure you have a different pastry from a different bakery everyday; have strudel, cherry streusel, pretzels, Berliner ballen. A great little bakery on the Ludwigstrasse is “Josef Kratz”. Definitely have dinner at “Fraundorfer Hof” it serves hearty Bavarian food and as entertainment you have the traditional schuhplattler folk dance – look it up it’s quite impressive!
- Shop – There are so many gorgeous and interesting little shops along the Ludwigstrasse. Some of my favourites included “Toepferei Uschi Winsi” they create beautiful homewares and pottery in the studio at the back of the shop and at Christmas time they also make decorations – a great place to pick up some non kitschy gifts! “Korbwaren und Geschenk Artikel” specialise in handmade basketry and wicker products and my favourite, even though I only saw it from the outside was “Raritäteneck Loreck” rare objects and antiques – I desperately wanted to go into this store as there was a beautiful vintage linen dress in the window as well as some Nina Ricci jewellery, unfortunately every time I went passed the shop was closed – so if anyone gets the opportunity to go please let me know of its wonders!!
Skiing and Zugspitze
If you get the opportunity definitely spend a few days skiing, we stayed close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and skiied at the Hausberg mountain but there are lots of different ski slopes you can access from Garmisch. If skiing or snowboarding is not your thing, you can always get a ticket up to the Zugspitze and enjoy the beautiful views over Bavaria and beyond, as well as drink copious amounts of mulled wine!
Visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II had been very high on my list of things I wanted to do while in Bavaria. It was a two hour bus ride from Garmisch, so you can imagine my disappointment and frustration – with myself – when we found out that all the tours to the castle had sold out! To make matters worse tours to the neighbouring Hohenschwangau Castle had sold out until our departure back to Garmisch. Lesson learnt, even when it’s 2 degrees always be organised and book any tours our tourist attractions online! Nevertheless we had a hearty traditional Bavarian meal at the pub and then made our way up to Neuschwanstein Castle, we were able to enter the courtyard and even seeing it from the outside made me feel like I was in a fairytale.
The Partnach Gorge is only a 30 minute walk from the Olympic Skiing Stadium and is an absolutely enchanting experience! Even though the temperatures weren’t cold enough for the usual frozen display, it was spectacular enough to see partly frozen waterfalls and the eeriness of a frosted landscape.
I left Garmisch-Partenkirchen knowing that I would definitely come back, although I am definitely more of a big city girl I just loved this picturesque town. Stay tuned for a London and Paris travel diary Xx Nadine